Wastewater Treatment Facilities

Collection and Treatment

To keep wastewater (from homes, business, etc.) from spoiling our water resources, pollutants must be removed before it is discharged back into the environment. In Monroe County, wastewater is collected by a system of underground pipes, or sewers, which carry it to wastewater treatment facilities (WWTF). Most of these are located near bodies of water into which the treated wastewater is discharged. Prior to 1970, there were approximately 40 WWTFs in Monroe County. Today, five facilities remain, serving a population of over a half million.

Until 1998, Monroe County operated three WWTFs: Northwest Quadrant, Frank E. VanLare and Gates Chili Ogden. Gates-Chili-Ogden WWTF had a final discharge into the Genesee River. It was determined this point source could be eliminated by shutting down GCO and pumping the sewage flow to VanLare. A sewage pumping station was constructed on the grounds of the Gates Chili Ogden facility and the plant was decommissioned. The discharge from the pumping station is routed through the new Gates-Chili-Ogden force main to the southwest section of the Rochester, then on through downtown Rochester and north to VanLare—where it is treated.

Other wastewater treatment plants that discharge into the Genesee River include those from the village of Honeoye Falls; and Kodak’s King’s Landing. Each of these facilities has a permit to discharge specific amounts of certain pollutants.

The county’s VanLare and Northwest Quadrant plants are located on the south shore of Lake Ontario. VanLare dates back to 1916 and is the largest WWTF in the county. The operating permit for flow is 135 million gallons per day (mgd) with a capability of handling 660mgd during storm events. The Northwest Quadrant WWTF (NWQ) is located in the town of Greece and handles largely residential wastewater. NWQ has a permitted flow of 22mgd and handles 14mgd on average.

Informational Sites

Wastewater Definitions

  • Bacteria: Bacteria are living organisms, which consist of a single cell.
  • Biodegradable: Organic matter that can be broken down by bacteria to more stable forms which will not create a nuisance or give off foul odors.
  • Centrifuge: A mechanical device that uses centrifugal or rotational forces to separate solids from liquids.
  • Combined Sewer: A sewer designed to carry both sanitary and storm wastewaters.
  • Dewater: To remove water from wastewater sludge.
  • Disinfection: The process designed to kill most microorganisms in wastewater, including essentially all pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria.
  • Effluent: The treated wastewater that is discharged back into the environment.
  • Force Main: A pipe that conveys wastewater under pressure from the discharge side of a pump to a point of gravity flow.
  • Incineration: The burning of wastewater treatment plant sludge after it has been dewatered.
  • Infiltration: The seepage of groundwater into a sewer system. This usually occurs through defective or cracked pipes, pipe joints, connections or manhole walls.
  • Inflow: Water discharged into the sewer system from sources other than regular connections. This includes flow from yard drains, foundation drains and around manhole covers. Inflow differs from Infiltration in that it is a direct discharge into the sewer rather than a leak in the sewer itself.
  • Influent: The wastewater that comes into the wastewater treatment facility after it has been contaminated by home or industrial uses.
  • Inorganic Waste: Waste material such as sand, salt, iron and other minerals which are only slightly affected by the action of organisms.
  • Loading: Quantity of material applied to a device at one time.
  • Microorganisms: Very small organisms that can be seen only through a microscope. Some microorganisms use wastewater for food and thus remove or alter much of the undesirable matter.
  • Mixed Liquor: A mixture of activated sludge and organic matter undergoing activated sludge treatment in an aeration tank.
  • NPDES Permit: National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit is the regulatory agency document designed to control all discharges.
  • Nitrification: The conversion of nitrogenous matter into nitrates by bacteria.
  • Organic Matter: Chemical substances of animal or vegetable origin, of basically carbon structures.
  • Oxygen Deficiency: Lack of oxygen.
  • Ozone: Used as a disinfectant and deodorant in wastewater treatment plants.
  • Pathogens: Disease-producing organisms.
  • Potable Water: Water that is satisfactory for domestic consumption.
  • Residual Chlorine: Chlorine remaining in water or wastewater after treatment.
  • Returned Sludge: Activated sludge returned to mix with incoming raw sewage.
  • Screen: A device used to remove larger materials from entering the wastewater treatment system.
  • Scum: A mass of solid matter that rises to the surface on a treatment tank.
  • Septic Tank: A settling tank in which organic solids are decomposed by anaerobic bacterial action.
  • Settable Solids: The matter that will not stay in suspension during a specific period of time.
  • Sewage: Used water of a community.
  • Sludge: Solids separated from liquids during wastewater treatment.
  • Sludge Cake: The sludge that has been dewatered by treatment process.
  • Sterilization: The destruction of living organisms.
  • Suspended Solids: Solids that either float on surface or are in suspension in waste water.
  • Total Solids: The sum of dissolved and undissolved constitutes in wastewater.